Capturing History

Team IFS

All too often precious moments of skating history are lost to future generations, but with the recent release of the movie “Rise” on DVD, two events that transpired in 1961 have been captured forever.

“Riise” is a poignant journey into the past. it takes viewers through a kaleidoscope of memories and emotions surrounding the tragic plane crash that took the lives of the 1961 U.S. figure skating team en route to the World Championships. Throughout the hour-long movie, many skaters from the previous and subsequent generations shared their recollections of what transpired following that tragic event.

“Rise” came from a brand of shaving cream that was a major sponsor of the 1961 U.S. Championships.

In part of the movie an insightful interaction between Scott Hamilton, Michelle Kwan, Brian Boitano, Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill takes place, each sharing their memories of how they first got into the sport. Boitano’s recollection is amusing. The 1988 Olympic Champion explained that he was initially determined to show his parents how hard skating was.

Another collectible that can be purchased alone or as part of the set is the uncut, original televised version of the 1961 u.s. Championships. This was the first year the event was ever broadcast on television, and comes complete with beer and cigarette commercials. Though the black-and-white tape is a little grainy, it offers a wonderful window into a era of skating history.

Back then, the referee stood in the middle of the ice and blew a whistle as a signal to the judges to present their scores. Five judges then rose to their feet, held up cards with their marks for the technical aspect and then held up a second set for the presentation scores.

So many little tidbits of information are contained in this particular production. Who knew that Dudley Richards, the partner of the young Maribel vinson owen, had been competing for 20 years?

ice dancer Marilyn Meeker twisted her ankle prior to the Championships and was unable to compete. Her partner Larry Pierce teamed up with Diane Sherbloom, and after only five weeks together they claimed the dance title and were subsequently named to the World team. That twisted ankle turned out to be a life-saving injury for Meeker.

Who remembered that Bradley Lord caused the upset of
the Championships by winning over the favorite Greg Kelly?

Whoever came up with the idea to capture the memories of so many who knew the skaters on the 1961 U.S. World figure skating team, and those who witnessed the aftermath, needs to be applauded.

Both “Rise” and the 1961 U.S. Championships coverage are sure to be a big hit with skating aficionados and historians alike.

To order either or both of the DVDs online go to

Originally published in December 2011